Championship previews, 28 Jan 2017

Given that there’s a cup-depleted EFL schedule this weekend I haven’t produced any permutations graphics, but to balance things out I’ve gone into a bit more detail with the previews.

Below are the individual preview graphics for each game in the forthcoming round of fixtures. These smash together minimalist versions of two visualisations: each club’s E Ratings and their relative positions on the attack and defence scatter graphics.

I’ve explained them fully here, but in summary they’re intended as a simple pre-match comparison of two teams using high-level performance data. The graphic has three sections:

  1. The current ratings (with ranks) of the two teams and how these have changed over the past 30 league matches;
  2. A probability forecast for the match based on the ratings;
  3. Scatter graphics showing the teams’ attacking and defensive performance this season.

2017-01-28-norwich-birmingham

Norwich’s recent performances suggest that they’re on the up, although they’ll have a job to recover the ground lost in the promotion race during their poor run. A still-leaky defence may not be exploitable by a visiting Birmingham whose attack is looking increasingly unconvincing and they may struggle to contain the Canaries’ clinical front line.
2017-01-28-preston-ipswich

Preston have re-established themselves as a solid mid-table side and are more balanced than in their “safety first” approach to last season. Their defence has been far more permissive this time around but shouldn’t be tested too much by Ipswich’s increasingly quiet attack.
2017-01-28-qpr-burton

QPR may be in relatively good form but their underlying performances haven’t been convincing under Ian Holloway so far – if anything it looks like they’re going backwards. Burton’s wasteful finishing has undermined an otherwise respectable campaign and they won’t get many better chances than this to register a priceless away win, particularly with their hosts also struggling to find the net reliably this season.
2017-01-28-reading-cardiff

Reading continue to overachieve and their clinical finishing in particular could allow them to do so again when faced with Cardiff’s leaky defence. However the visitors’ underlying performances have been those of a top half side and they shouldn’t be underestimated, particularly given the number of opportunities that the home defence is likely to allow them.
2017-01-28-rotherham-barnsley

The model perhaps surprisingly gives Rotherham a decent chance of winning this one, despite Barnsley currently sitting eighth in the table. The Tykes have lost three first team regulars – including their captain – and their performances have been slipping for quite a while, particularly in defence. The Millers’ own defence remains the division’s worst by some distance however, so this could end up being a high-scoring game.